from The New York Daily News
Nagin is sorry man
BY MICHAEL McAULIFF
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON — With the anniversary of his own city's tragedy coming tomorrow, loudmouthed New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is apologizing for calling Ground Zero a "hole in the ground."
"I am sorry for that because I have seen death in my own city," Nagin said yesterday.
Nagin, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he was just trying to counter critics on the eve of Hurricane Katrina's anniversary by pointing to another American disaster site that has not been rebuilt.
"After 9/11, we sent trucks, we sent resources, we sent food. We prayed for New York," Nagin said. "When we had Katrina, they reciprocated. So I understand what they've gone through, and I hope they understand . . . what we've gone through."
Nagin says he wishes he had chosen different words to describe Ground Zero.
"I wish I would have basically said that it was an undeveloped site, which it is," he said.
But Nagin did not escape criticism yesterday for the slow pace of work in his city, including some from Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a fellow Democrat, who called his performance "hit and miss."
"We've all made mistakes," Landrieu said on ABC's "This Week." "But he's not stayed focused on the job at hand."
Among other things, Nagin has been slammed for failing to get people out of the city during the storm and doing a poor job getting the city back on its feet.
But Nagin and Landrieu both said the city would be doing better if the federal government had not failed so dismally. Landrieu said a major problem was that of the $110 billion President Bush authorized to help after the storm, only about 12% has gotten down to the local level.
Donald Powell, the President's appointee overseeing Gulf Coast reconstruction, said on "Fox News Sunday" that New Orleans has a long way to go, but its port has been rebuilt, tourism is back and the energy industry is roaring.
"We still have a long way to go, but the President's in it for the long haul," he said.
Originally published on August 28, 2006